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CBD product labels sometimes say that they were produced with “CO2 extraction.” That can mean that the CBD and other ingredients were removed from the plant using high-pressure carbon dioxide gas, not chemical solvents. Depending on the type of CO2 extraction used, the technique might be able to extract not just CBD but other cannabinoids (see number 5) in the plant, Boyar says. However, that approach is not necessarily better, because it’s unclear whether those other compounds provide additional health benefits. And it may not be safer, either, because some forms of CO2 extraction still use solvents, Boyar says.

Making health claims, even just the ability to treat relatively minor problems like migraines, is legal only for prescription drugs, which undergo extensive testing for effectiveness and safety. And the more dramatic the claim, such as the ability to cure cancer or heart disease, the more skeptical you should be. Since 2015, the FDA has cracked down on dozens of companies selling CBD products online for making unallowed health claims.

So for CBD products from hemp, check labels to see whether they say where it was grown, and look especially for those from Colorado. Not all products, however, include that information. So in a dispensary or a retail store, ask the staff whether they know where the hemp was grown. And for products purchased online, check the companies’ website to see whether it has that information, or contact the seller to ask the same question.

7. Avoid Products That Make Sweeping Health Claims

On the other hand, take extra care with products that list only the amount of total “cannabinoids” they contain, not specifically how much CBD is in them. Those cannabinoids could include not just CBD and THC but dozens of other related compounds. Companies may take that labeling approach because they hope it will attract less scrutiny from the Food and Drug Administration, Lee says.

This is important mainly if you want to avoid the head-high that comes with THC, something that is important to many people who are considering CBD. But knowing the THC level can be important for other reasons, too, including how effective a product might be, as well as where you can buy it.

Some CBD products also describe themselves as including or coming from “hemp oil.” In some cases, manufacturers use that term to mean CBD oil, which is oil rich in CBD made mainly from the leaves, resin, or flowering tops of hemp plants. But “hemp oil” more often, and more properly, refers to oil made from the seeds of the plant, and contains only very small amounts of CBD, says Lanier at the Hemp Industries Association. That oil is often included in hemp-based soaps, cosmetics, and similar products.

Finding a CBD product that’s more than 0.3 percent THC could be tougher. For one thing, you’ll have to be in a state that has legalized marijuana, not just CBD. You’ll also need to go to a state-licensed dispensary to buy it and, in the 20 states that have legalized just the medical use of marijuana, you’ll also have to get a recommendation from a physician. In states that have legalized medical and recreational use—Alaska, California, Colorado, Oregon, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Washington—you don’t need to see a doctor first, but you do need to be over 21. (Maine and Vermont have legalized marijuana for recreational use but have yet to open recreational dispensaries.)

CR’s survey also provides some support for CBD’s possible health benefits. Almost three-quarters of people who took CBD said it was at least moderately effective for the main reason they took it, with 48 percent of them saying it was very or extremely effective.

But marijuana clearly poses risks, too. Immediate ones include impaired mental and physical performance—which may be why its use is linked to car crashes. An October 2018 study found that in four states with legal recreational marijuana—Colorado, Oregon, Nevada, and Washington—crashes were up 6 percent compared with four neighboring states where recreational use was restricted.

CR surveyed more than one thousand CBD users nationwide to find out whether it’s changing their lives—and how

You can also purchase products in dispensaries that contain CBD extracted from marijuana. They may have more THC than would be allowed in those sold online or in retail stores but may also be more likely to contain what is claimed, and to be free of contaminants. That’s because states typically require more testing of products sold in dispensaries.

And CBD seemed to work well for some of the most common problems, including easing stress and joint pain, and improving sleep. Our survey also suggests that side effects are uncommon; almost three-quarters said they experienced no side effects.

The FDA has said that it will hold a public hearing “in the near future” on how to regulate CBD and clarify confusion over CBD’s legal and regulatory status.

Y ou’ve probably seen plenty of news about cannabidiol (CBD) and marijuana in the past couple of years. People might consider them for similar reasons, but they’re not one and the same.

CBD, a compound in marijuana and hemp, provides no “high” and is typically used for anxiety, insomnia, and joint pain. It’s legal—to one extent or another—in almost all states and found in a variety of products, including coffee, candy, oils, tinctures, vape pens, cosmetics, and even water.

More people are using these substances for problems like pain. But what does the science say?

Marijuana, which also comes in numer­ous forms, can make people high because of the delta-9 tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) it contains. (CBD may have tiny amounts.) It’s legally permitted for medical use (for problems such as migraines, chronic pain, anxiety, and post-traumatic stress disorder, according to the advocacy group NORML) in 33 states and in Washington, D.C., and for recreational use in 11 states and D.C.

The use of marijuana among those 65 or older has doubled in recent years, according to a 2020 research letter in JAMA Internal Medicine. But it’s still low, going from about 2 percent of older adults in 2015 to 4 percent in 2018.

Almost one-third of U.S. adults tried CBD in the past 24 months, according to a January 2020 nationally representative Consumer Reports survey of 1,142 people. Twenty percent of Americans 65 and older said they’d tried CBD, up from 14 percent in a January 2019 nationally representative CR survey of 4,384 U.S. adults.